By: Donna Ray Berkelhammer
A client with a pending federal trademark application called the other day and asked if he should go ahead and pay the "Trademark Office" invoice directly. Trouble is, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not send invoices. It is up to the applicant or his attorney to keep up with necessary filings and pay the associated fees at the time of filing.
There are a growing number of businesses that mine data from governmental filings, and then try to sell questionable and expensive services. Many of these company names sound like legitimate governmental offices, and people think they have to pay these fees. Often the services are either unnecessary, not applicable to the particular trademark, or something the business owner or her attorney can do much more efficiently.
In fact, the Trademark Office has posted its own warning.
Here are some recent solicitations our clients have received. If you look closely at the fine print, all of them say that "this is an offer, not an invoice."
If you are working with trademark counsel, always run these by your attorney. If not, read the small print to make sure you understand what's required and what's an advertisement.
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